Revise the Houston Department of Public Works and Engineering's Infrastructure Design Manual to require that all surface streets in Houston be designed with 10 foot wide lanes instead of 12.
This petition had 54 supporters
One fatality and forty serious injuries every other day - that is the cost, in blood and bone, of our automotive infrastructure. So far this year, 2500 people have died on Texas roads.
The City’s Infrastructure Design Manual (“IDM”) should be revised to reduce the required lane width on surface streets in Houston from 12 feet to 10. New rules currently under consideration would reduce the required lane width to 11 feet. However, this petition urges the City to adopt a 10 foot wide lane requirement.
The experience of cities all over the country shows that this may be the simplest, most cost-effective step to reduce the frankly appalling number of deaths on Houston roads, and reduce the amounts spent on road construction and maintenance. Over the last decade, cities have figured out that reducing lane width from 12 to 10 feet reduces road fatalities, increases pedestrian comfort, and conserves increasingly precious real estate.
What cities have learned is that drivers do not respond to posted speed limits. Instead, driver behavior is more effectively controlled through the use of subtle clues along roadways that speeding and other reckless behavior are inappropriate. Witness the contrast in driver attitudes between a Sunday cruise down Heights Boulevard and the consistently high speeds on Travis. The distinction isn’t arbitrary – speed matters. Pedestrians hit by a car going 30 versus 20 miles an hour are up to ten times more likely to die. Speed exponentially increases the severity of automobile accidents.
As if the reduction in fatalities and serious injuries wasn’t inducement enough, narrower lanes also lower construction and maintenance costs. Narrower lanes mean less surface area to build and maintain. The extra space freed up when lanes are narrowed can be used for sidewalks, cycling infrastructure, and additional parking spaces.
Under the current rules, whenever TxDOT builds a street in Houston, wider lanes are the rule. The result is higher speeds, deadlier crashes, and a less enjoyable experience for residents and visitors. This result is made all the more tragic because it is so easily avoided. It is for these reasons that I implore you to join this petition, and ask the City of Houston Department of Public Works and Engineering to revise the IDM rules to require lanes no wider than 10 feet on all surface roads in Houston. It is difficult to imagine a rule change that will, with the stroke of a pen, do more to save lives, increase the usability of our city, and help shore up Houston’s balance sheet. Not only is it the smart thing to do, it is the right thing to do. It is for all of these reasons that I ask you to join this petition.
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